Derek Prince - Why Was Jesus Baptized?
Now we want to come to Christian baptism, which is the word that I use, what it means to be baptized as a believer in Jesus I would have to say that this is a far more important thing than the average Christian today realizes. Even the Baptists, generally speaking, have very little understanding of the real significance and importance of being baptized in water. Let me say, you are not baptized into Jesus Christ because you’re a sinner. It’s not a baptism of repentance.
Let’s look at it. Matthew chapter 3:13-17. Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent him, saying: I have need to be baptized by you and are you coming to me? Now at that moment John did not know that Jesus was the Messiah because in John’s Gospel he says, I only knew He was the Messiah when the Spirit of God descended upon Him and remained on Him. So that’s a testimony to Jesus’ life. Even though he didn’t know He was the Messiah he said, You’re more righteous than I am. I shouldn’t be the one to baptize you. But Jesus answered and said to him, Permit it to be so now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he allowed him. Then Jesus, when He had been baptized, came up immediately from the water and, behold, the heavens were open to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
And in John's Gospel it says, abiding on Him. And then there came a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance that the New Testament attaches to being baptized in water. Because in this scene all three persons of the Godhead, endorsed it. Jesus went through it, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and had not descended upon Him, until He was baptized in water. And then God the Father spoke from heaven and said, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. God, if you might say reverently, bent over backwards to emphasize the extreme importance in His eyes of being baptized in water.
Now, I want to point out the nature of Christian baptism. It is not a baptism of repentance because Jesus had no sins of which to repent. He was not baptized because He had repented, He was baptized by John but He was not baptized with John’s baptism. What was the purpose? He states it Himself. Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. He doesn’t say for me, He says for us. He identifies Himself with all who will follow Him through the waters of baptism. And He says it is fitting, it is appropriate, it is becoming in this way to fulfill all righteousness. That’s what you do when you’re baptized in the name of Jesus Christ as a follower of Jesus. You are not baptized with a baptism of repentance. You have repented but that’s not why you are baptized. You’re baptized to fulfill all righteousness, to complete all righteousness. This is such an important point that I want to emphasize it.
If you turn to Romans chapter 5:1. Paul says, of us as believers in Jesus: Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul says through our faith in Jesus we have been justified. That’s one of the most important terms in the New Testament, very little understood. I say it has a number of different meanings: acquitted, declared not guilty, reckoned righteous, made righteous. It has all those meanings. But through our faith in Jesus, we have been acquitted, we’re declared not guilty, we’ve been reckoned righteous and we’ve been made righteous. And that’s why we should be baptized. Not because we’ve repented of our sins but because it’s the way to complete our righteousness. We already have righteousness imputed to us through our faith in Jesus.
Now water baptism is the appropriate way to fulfill, or complete, or carry out that righteousness. I think this is very, very little understood today. Generally speaking, as I’ve said, the importance of water baptism is very little understood. The sort of answer you get is, Well, if you want to be baptized, we’re having a baptismal service in two weeks, put your name down. That is not the way the New Testament dealt with baptism. I’ll show you that. Now baptism essentially is a commitment. I’m talking about Christian baptism. It’s an identification with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection. Romans 6:3: Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
So, Christian baptism is identification with Jesus in death, burial and resurrection. We died with Him, in the watery grave we’re buried with Him and then out of the watery grave we arise with Him to walk in newness of life. A different kind of life than what we led before. And Paul says: He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. But if you go back to Romans 1:4 you find He was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. So, when we are baptized it signifies we’ve come to the end of our own life. We’ve come to the end of doing things in our own strength and righteousness and power. From now on we’re going to be like Jesus. When we come out of the tomb, the watery tomb, it’s to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus did not raise Himself from the dead. That’s very significant. He was raised from the dead by God the Father through the Holy Spirit. Paul says in Romans 1:4: He was declared to be the Son of God by the Spirit of holiness through the resurrection of the dead. Two different courts, one Jewish court, one Roman court had sentenced Him to death as a criminal. But on the third day when the tomb opened and He rose from the dead, God reversed their decisions. He said, This is my Son, He’s altogether righteous and I’m bringing Him back to life because He’s going to be the author of life and godliness to all who will believe in Him. Oh, how important the resurrection is! And you see in water baptism we act out the reality of the resurrection.